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28. What say ye, O interpreters of sacred and of divine law?32813281    So Gelenius, followed by Orelli and others, for the ms., reading divini interpretes viri (instead of juris)—“O men, interpreters of the sacred and divine,” which is retained by the 1st ed., Hildebrand, and Oehler. Are they attached to a better cause who adore the Lares Grundules, the Aii 420Locutii,32823282    Aii Locutii. Shortly before the Gallic invasion, b.c. 390, a voice was heard at the dead of night announcing the approach of the Gauls, but the warning was unheeded. After the departure of the Gauls, the Romans dedicated an altar and sacred enclosure to Aius Locutius, or Loquens, i.e., “The Announcing Speaker,” at a spot on the Via Nova, where the voice was heard. The ms. reads aiaceos boetios, which Gelenius emended Aios Locutios. and the Limentini,32833283    So emended by Ursinus for the ms. libentinos, which is retained in the 1st ed., and by Gelenius, Canterus, and others. Cf. iv. 9, where Libentina is spoken of as presiding over lusts. than we who worship God the Father of all things, and demand of Him protection in danger and distress? They, too, seem to you wary, wise, most sagacious, and not worthy of any blame, who revere Fauni and Fatuæ, and the genii of states,32843284    As a soul was assigned to each individual at his birth, so a genius was attributed to a state. The genius of the Roman people was often represented on ancient coins. who worship Pausi and Bellonæ:—we are pronounced dull, doltish, fatuous, stupid, and senseless, who have given ourselves up to God, at whose nod and pleasure everything which exists has its being, and remains immoveable by His eternal decree. Do you put forth this opinion? Have you ordained this law? Do you publish this decree, that he be crowned with the highest honours who shall worship your slaves? that he merit the extreme penalty of the cross who shall offer prayers to you yourselves, his masters? In the greatest states, and in the most powerful nations, sacred rites are performed in the public name to harlots, who in old days earned the wages of impurity, and prostituted themselves to the lust of all;32853285    Thus the Athenians paid honours to Leæna, the Romans to Acca Laurentia and Flora. and yet for this there are no swellings of indignation on the part of the deities. Temples have been erected with lofty roofs to cats, to beetles, and to heifers:32863286    The superstitions of the Egyptians are here specially referred to.—the powers of the deities thus insulted are silent; nor are they affected with any feeling of envy because they see the sacred attributes of vile animals put in rivalry with them. Are the deities inimical to us alone? To us are they most unrelenting, because we worship their Author, by whom, if they do exist, they began to be, and to have the essence of their power and their majesty, from whom, having obtained their very divinity, so to speak, they feel that they exist, and realize that they are reckoned among things that be, at whose will and at whose behest they are able both to perish and be dissolved, and not to be dissolved and not to perish?32873287    That is, by whose pleasure and at whose command they are preserved from annihilation. For if we all grant that there is only one great Being, whom in the long lapse of time nought else precedes, it necessarily follows that after Him all things were generated and put forth, and that they burst into an existence each of its kind. But if this is unchallenged and sure, you32883288    So Orelli, adopting a conjecture of Meursius, for the ms. nobis. will be compelled as a consequence to confess, on the one hand, that the deities are created,32893289    That is, not self-existent, but sprung from something previously in being. and on the other, that they derive the spring of their existence from the great source of things. And if they are created and brought forth, they are also doubtless liable to annihilation and to dangers; but yet they are believed to be immortal, ever-existent, and subject to no extinction. This is also a gift from God their Author, that they have been privileged to remain the same through countless ages, though by nature they are fleeting, and liable to dissolution.

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